My name is Valerie Jones. I was born in the tropical Island of Montserrat located 15 minutes by plane from Antigua. Montserrat is termed by the National Geographic Explorer as ‘A Gem in the British Crown’.
It was 1988 in Montserrat, that I built myself a five-bedroom house in a superb area where the mountain and sea was always in sight. I considered myself successful. I later got married and then came the car. I thought I would never have to go from one place to the other paying rent, I was wrong. The volcano started (which we were excited to experience, totally ignoring the dangers) and changed all that comfort. We were forced from our homes into a life we never dreamed possible.
The seventeenth of September 1996, one year and two months after the Volcano erupted, we were awakened by the sound of the Mountain churning like a giant concrete mixer. There was a large plume of ash with fire, lightning and thunder. It looked like a giant ‘star-light’ with red-hot materials falling all around it. Stones were falling like if a tree full of mangoes were shaken.
I got dressed, picked up my emergency bag and woke my neighbours, who were sleeping through it all. I told my husband let’s go, and he asked me where? I told him if he wanted to stay it’s up to him, but I would rather die trying to get out than die not trying.
We piled into the car with our neighbour, her husband, grandmother and child. We started our escape towards the safety zone. The stones that were falling were the size of tennis balls, in between were a few the size of coconuts. I thought we were going to be crushed in the car.
We had only gone half a mile and we couldn’t see, the windscreen and headlamps of the car were covered with ash. We got out of the car and felt our way (by our knowledge of the area) to a shop below the road. My neighbour pushed her baby into my arms and left. She called me a short time later, so I gave the baby to my husband and went to see what she wanted.
I was shocked to see that she had broken a 24 by 38 aluminium window in two and had crawled through that small space into the shop. I called the others, and together we crawled through the space into the shop. We felt our way around to some seats and had just sat down when the phone rang. I had an idea and felt my way to the ringing phone. When it stopped, I took up the receiver and felt my way over the keys to the numbers of my cousin. I told her where we were, knowing that there was nothing she could do for us, but at least she would know where to find our bodies. I knew we were going to die and she did too, the anguish in her voice said as much. I did the same for the other family and was about to go sit next to my husband, when my neighbour asked if I would pray with her and her family. My husband, on the other hand, was telling me to come sit next to him so we could die together. I prayed with the family and sat down next to my husband.
My life flashed before me, not the house, not the car, but my spiritual life. Is it well with my soul and the saviour, have I done my best for Jesus, is there anything I did or did not do in my Christian walk that would hinder me from making it to heaven? Just then a peace came over me, a peace I can’t describe and I knew that I was ready. I thought about the people in the neighbouring islands and wondered if they knew how fortunate they were to be breathing fresh air and living a stress free life. I thought about the many times my husband and I left Montserrat only to come back to die. I was so caught up with my thoughts that I didn’t even realize that the stones had stopped falling. We crept through the space and felt our way to the car. The debris on the car was about three inches thick, and was like cement, pasted on the headlamps and windscreen. We cleaned the debris from the car and proceeded to the safety zone.
The miraculous thing about this is that of all the stones that fell, not one hit us. The baby was sleeping peacefully through it all. It was as if an angel had put her to sleep. We are paying rent once again because we lost our house with most of our possessions. The famous words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes chapter 1, “All is vanity and vexation of spirit” comes to mind. Lay not up treasures on the Earth where moth and rust doth corrupt. What we took years to build took only seconds to destroy. Only our relationship with Jesus will last and I have hope.
One year later there was another eruption and I had to go with a friend to identify her husband. Some of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition; some were identified by pieces of nylon clothing that had stuck to their baked bodies. I said a prayer in my heart for them and thanked God for saving me the year prior. We insure our houses, lives, cars and even our furniture. But what about our souls? When we are dying we don’t send for our insurance agents to find out if our benefits will be taken care of, we call on God. The insurance companies all filed bankruptcy and pulled off the Island leaving us penniless, but we had God our protector. If you ask some, what is their idea of a successful life, they will tell you money, a big house, a car and a family. But what about God? It’s not a sin to be rich, the bible says in third John chapter 1 verse 2 that “God wishes above all things that we would prosper and be in good health”. But we should not let these things consume us. Let Jesus reign in your heart and life. Just ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to come into your life. The next step is to be baptized, study your Bible, (God talking to you) pray, (you talking to God) and share his words with others, (you talking for God).
My sharing this with you is not to get praise or pity for myself, but to share with you the length and breath of Gods’ love and mercy. We lost our house but our home is in heaven.
Update: God gave me my second home on the 17th June 2004, a very beautiful home. He replaced the years the locust has eaten.
Some years on and many YouTube sermons later I was listening to one of Uncle David Gates sermon where he spoke about a man who almost made it to heaven, and was told to return and migrate to the country. He did not exactly did what he was told and was cautioned through a dream his wife was given. Uncle David made a plea for missionaries to work of the Lord. I was moved to change my flight from 5th of Sept 2018 to the 17th Aug 2018. I wondered what difference would a few weeks make, however I decided to obey. On the 5th of Sept 2018, a hurricane destroyed the Island of St Martin and the airport was closed for months. What struck me was that the disaster happened on the same day I was set to fly. Had I not obeyed the moving of the spirit, I would have been trapped there for months.
Siparutha in the interiors of Guyana was my first placement, though my intended mission was to teach Natural Remedies at the Medical Missionary College in Bethany.
I returned 2 weeks later to Flight Base to take up managerial position and Personal Assistant to the president in Guyana. My duty includes catering to the needs of the various projects, to assist missionaries in transitioning to their various projects, filing all financial reports and other businesses of Guyana Adventist Ministries and Services, (GAMAS) formerly Guyana Adventist Medical Aviation Services.
If this is an area in which you wish to donate and cater to, you are most welcomed to do so.
Send your donations to; GAMAS Flight Base c/o Tim Tillman, GMI Accountant 874 S McDonald Rd SW McDonald TN 37353. Phone: +14234731841
Thank you in advance for your assistance
Flight Base Manager & Personal Assistant to the President,
Phone/Email: +5926088783 email@example.com
Account details: Account Name Valerie Jones Republic Bank Guyana, 38-40 Water Street, Georgetown Guyana, Swift Code: RBGLGYGG Account number: 2747889. State what funds are for and which project.
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